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ADD: Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)

DigiTrad:
FREIGHT TRAIN
OH, BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE


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joerg.meffert@schering.de 13 Feb 97 - 01:51 AM
dani 13 Feb 97 - 10:08 AM
Les Benedict 14 Feb 97 - 12:05 AM
rich r 14 Feb 97 - 06:53 PM
Peter Timmerman 03 Aug 97 - 09:01 AM
ggherron@aol.com 04 Nov 98 - 06:12 PM
rich r 04 Nov 98 - 09:26 PM
Pete Peterson 04 Nov 98 - 10:43 PM
Sean Ruprecht-Belt 05 Nov 98 - 12:37 PM
Philippa 06 Nov 98 - 03:37 PM
Philippa 06 Nov 98 - 03:43 PM
dick greenhaus 09 Nov 98 - 01:41 PM
Einnor 09 Nov 98 - 02:44 PM
Sean Ruprecht-Belt 09 Nov 98 - 06:09 PM
GUEST,James Heyward 27 Feb 00 - 01:48 PM
MK 27 Feb 00 - 02:59 PM
Dani 27 Feb 00 - 03:38 PM
Pete Peterson 27 Feb 00 - 09:04 PM
Allan C. 28 Feb 00 - 08:33 AM
Dani 28 Feb 00 - 02:21 PM
lilith 18 Apr 01 - 04:57 AM
Mark Clark 18 Apr 01 - 05:56 AM
lilith 18 Apr 01 - 09:24 AM
Grab 18 Apr 01 - 10:46 AM
Justa Picker 18 Apr 01 - 11:24 AM
Sourdough 28 Sep 01 - 04:12 AM
harpgirl 28 Sep 01 - 07:17 AM
Artemis 23 Dec 01 - 09:20 PM
GUEST 24 Dec 01 - 12:14 PM
Stewie 24 Dec 01 - 06:18 PM
GUEST,Bud 25 Dec 01 - 10:22 AM
Justa Picker 25 Dec 01 - 10:40 AM
Amos 25 Dec 01 - 02:45 PM
Stewie 25 Dec 01 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Bud 26 Dec 01 - 08:19 AM
Suffet 26 Dec 01 - 09:01 AM
Suffet 04 Dec 08 - 10:21 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 Dec 08 - 05:44 AM
PoppaGator 05 Dec 08 - 04:09 PM
Suffet 05 Dec 08 - 05:01 PM
PoppaGator 05 Dec 08 - 05:25 PM
Suffet 05 Dec 08 - 08:26 PM
PoppaGator 08 Dec 08 - 01:51 PM
Suffet 08 Dec 08 - 11:28 PM
PoppaGator 09 Dec 08 - 08:23 AM
Suffet 09 Dec 08 - 09:07 AM
PoppaGator 09 Dec 08 - 01:08 PM
The Sandman 09 Dec 08 - 01:35 PM
The Sandman 09 Dec 08 - 01:39 PM
Suffet 09 Dec 08 - 05:11 PM
Suffet 28 Feb 09 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Mark Cool 05 Nov 09 - 09:53 PM
Joe Offer 15 Apr 17 - 08:04 PM
Joe Offer 15 Apr 17 - 08:55 PM
Joe Offer 15 Apr 17 - 09:10 PM
Jackaroodave 15 Apr 17 - 09:19 PM
Joe Offer 15 Apr 17 - 09:28 PM
Mark Ross 16 Apr 17 - 09:53 AM
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Subject: It ain't no lie
From: joerg.meffert@schering.de
Date: 13 Feb 97 - 01:51 AM

I'm looking for the lyrics called "It ain't no lie" or similar title. It should be from Elizabeth Cotton (1964).


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Subject: ADD: It ain't no lie^^
From: dani
Date: 13 Feb 97 - 10:08 AM

This is from a recording of Jerry Garcia's Acoustic Band.
He dedicates this song to the memory of Elizabeth Cotton.

One old woman in this town
keep a-tellin' lies on me
Wish to my soul that old woman would die
keep a-tellin' lies on me

Oh baby it ain't no lie
oh baby it ain't no lie
oh baby it ain't no lie
you know this life I live is mighty [(fine) I think]

Been all around this whole round world
Lord I just got back to day
work all the week, honey
and I give it all to you
Honey, please, what more can I do?

Oh....etc

Repeat first

Oh....etc


Hope this helps! I'd love to be able to play this as well as sing it - anyone know where I could find 5-string banjo tabs for this and similar stuff?


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Les Benedict
Date: 14 Feb 97 - 12:05 AM

From the Elizabeth Cotton album liner notes - lines are pretty much the same as the Jerry Garcia thread, except the chorus is -- "... this life I'm living is very high"


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: rich r
Date: 14 Feb 97 - 06:53 PM

A mellow "folk" version of this Elizabeth Cotton song was recorded in 1965 by a Canadian group The Allen-Ward Trio (self-titled, Vanguard VSD-79189). As far as I know this was their only album, but it is really quite pleasant.

rich r


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Subject: Lyr Add: OH BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE^^
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 03 Aug 97 - 09:01 AM

A contribution to DT from a fave of Max's (El Sorter Ascending, The Grand Mudcat Mufti, He-Who-Must-Be-Oyveyed, The 10,000 Digits of Dr. M) and mine:

OH, BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE

One old woman, Lord, in this town
Keeps a telling lies on me.
Wish to my soul that she would die, Lord,
She's telling lies on me.

Chorus:
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie,
This life I'm living is very hard.

Been all around this whole round world,
Lord, and I just got back today.
Work all the week, honey and I give it all to you,
Honey babe, what more can I do?

-- Elizabeth Cotton.^^


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Subject: Need lyrics
From: ggherron@aol.com
Date: 04 Nov 98 - 06:12 PM

I'm looking for lyrics for a blues song with a title that is something like "This Life I'm Livin' Is Very Hard". That may be a line form the song and not the title. Has anyone out there heard it and do you have the lyrics or know where I can get them?


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Subject: RE:
From: rich r
Date: 04 Nov 98 - 09:26 PM

I believe the song you are looking for is "Oh, Babe, It Ain't No Lie" which was written by Elizabeth Cotton. I will have to transcribe it from a recording unless someone else has ready acess to the lyrics.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Life I've been living
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 04 Nov 98 - 10:43 PM

This is how I remember it

Some old woman in this old town
keeps telling lies on me
Lord how I wish that old woman would die
Who keeps telling lies on me
Chor:
Oh Babe it ain't no lie
Oh Babe it ain't no lie
Oh Babe it ain't no lie
You know this life I'm livin's is very high

Been all around this whole round world
And I done most everything
Spent all my money and gave it all to you
Tell me honey what else can I do


Is this the right song?? note that I remeber "high" and not "hard" but someone else has made the same guess
PETE


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Subject: RE:
From: Sean Ruprecht-Belt
Date: 05 Nov 98 - 12:37 PM

The version I'm most familiar with is Stefan Grossman's and there it's definitely a hard life. His lyrics are a lttle different in the verses, though. I'd be happy to post them if anyone is interested.

...Sean


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Philippa
Date: 06 Nov 98 - 03:37 PM

It's also recorded by Carolyn Hester. But I suppose Elizabeth Cotten would be the best source.

I haven't browsed the thread on "This life I'm living is mighty hard" yet, but I wonder if "hard" is a mistake for "high" and someone else seeks the same song. I'll have a look now, but I won't be returning to this thread to tell you.


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Subject: RE:
From: Philippa
Date: 06 Nov 98 - 03:43 PM

note that there's another thread "It ain't no lie" about the Elizabeth Cotten song "Oh, babe it ain't no lie, This life I'm living is mighty high". so if that is the song you want, you'll also find a bit of (similar) information in that thread (Nov6 and earlier)


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Subject: RE:
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Nov 98 - 01:41 PM

Never bother asking if anyone is interested in lyrics you might post. WE are!


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Subject: RE:
From: Einnor
Date: 09 Nov 98 - 02:44 PM

I want them too. I always try to play the tunes that show up on the forum. I have a limited repitoire[sp].


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Subject: Lyr Add: OH BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE (Elizabeth Cotten
From: Sean Ruprecht-Belt
Date: 09 Nov 98 - 06:09 PM

Sorry for the delay of a few days since I promised to post these. I can but say that time flies whether you're having fun or not.

Anyway, these are the lyrics I sing when I play this song. I am pretty sure I picked them up from a Stefan Grossman record several years ago.

Some old woman in this old town
Keeps telling lies on me.
I wish to my soul that old woman would die,
Stop tellin' her lies on me.

Oh, babe, it ain't no lie
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie
This life I'm living is very hard.

Been all around this great big world
Just got back today.
Work all week and give my money all to you
Honey, what more can I do?

Oh, babe, it ain't no lie...


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: GUEST,James Heyward
Date: 27 Feb 00 - 01:48 PM

Im thinking about using - It ain't no lie - in a short documentary for Television. Can nyone tell me who owns the rights ?


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Subject: ADD: It ain't no lie^^
From: MK
Date: 27 Feb 00 - 02:59 PM

I learned an Elizabeth Cotten version of it from Stefan Grossman... Oh Babe, Ain't No lie, with lyrics:

One old woman in this town
Keeps on tellin' her lies on me.
I wish to my Lord, that woman would die
She's telling her lies on me.


Chorus: Oh babe, ain't no lie.
Oh babe, ain't no lie.
Oh babe, ain't no lie.
This life I'm living is very hard.



I've been all around this whole wide world
I just got home today.
I work all the day and give my money all to you
What more can I do.


Chorus:^^


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Dani
Date: 27 Feb 00 - 03:38 PM

I suspect Jerry added that second verse. Anyone have a recording of Elizabeth singing it?

BTW she told a charming story about the genesis of this song. When I have more time, I'll add it.

Dani


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 27 Feb 00 - 09:04 PM

I don't have it but I remeber a Folkways record with Libba Cotten singing the verses above. Nobody, thank the Goddess, has written additional verses as has happend to Freight Train. I suspect Libba's estate owns the copyright-- Mike or Peggy Seeger would know I bet! (It is also possible that Folkways Records, now Smithsonian Institution, owns the copyright!) As Gilbert and Sullvan would say-- topsy-turvy!


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Allan C.
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 08:33 AM

I am fortunate enough to have a recording of Dani singing this song at the 1999 Getaway. It was the first time I had heard it. Nice song! Hearing it was among the really good things about going to something like the Getaway.


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Dani
Date: 28 Feb 00 - 02:21 PM

Yeah, but dammit I sang the wrong words, as evidenced above. It was never clear to me from listening to the CD I have, which has no lyrics enclosed. I have since been corrected!

You are very kind, Allan. Yesterday at a song circle I thought of Moonchild, and you, when we sang Five Hundred Miles (also a highlight of the Getaway).

All of which reminds me, has anyone knowledge of other recordings from that weekend? I'll start another thread, I guess.

Dani


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Subject: : ain't no lie
From: lilith
Date: 18 Apr 01 - 04:57 AM

thanks to all who are replying to my autoharp question... now i've got another request! i'm trying to find full lyrics and chords/tabs for "ain't no lie"... i don't know who sang it originally, but in the version i have (sung by mojave), the first verse is: one old woman in this old town keeps telling her lies on me wish to my heart that old woman would die keeps telling her lies on me oh lord, it ain't no lie (repeats 3x) this life i'm living is mighty high (or fine?)

thanks


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: : ain't no lie
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Apr 01 - 05:56 AM

"Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie" is an Elizabeth Cotton tune. The same lady who wrote "Freight Train." If you've never heard her recording of the tune, you really should look it up.

Below are the chords I play. If someone has better ones, perhaps they'll post them as well.

      - Mark


Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie

  There's one old woman in this town,         (C,E,F)
Keeps tellin' those lies on me, (F,C,G7,C)
I wish to the Lord that woman would die, {C,E,F)
Keeps tellin' those lies on me. (F,C,G7,C)

Oh Babe it ain't no lie, (C,D,G7,C)
Oh Babe it ain't no lie, (E,F)
Oh Babe it ain't no lie, (F,C)
This life I'm livin' is very high. (C.G7,C)


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: : ain't no lie
From: lilith
Date: 18 Apr 01 - 09:24 AM

thanks mark... i was under the impression that there were further verses as well, but don't know the words to them - is this true, and if there are more verses, what are they?


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: : ain't no lie
From: Grab
Date: 18 Apr 01 - 10:46 AM

I've got a version by Davey Graham which I'm pretty sure has more verses. I'll try and get the words written down sometime.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: : ain't no lie
From: Justa Picker
Date: 18 Apr 01 - 11:24 AM

(I play it a bit differently.)


There's one old woman in this town, (C,F)
Keeps tellin' those lies on me, (C,G7,C)
I wish to the Lord that woman would die, (C,F)
Keeps tellin' those lies on me. (C,G7, C)
Oh Babe it ain't no lie, (G7,D7,G7,C)
Oh Babe it ain't no lie, (E,F)
Oh Babe it ain't no lie, (F,C)
This life I'm livin' is very high. (C,F,G,C)


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Subject: RE: ADD:Oh, Babe It Ain't No Lie
From: Sourdough
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 04:12 AM

I learned this song from Max Abramowitz in New Haven in 1960. A couple of years later, I was teaching in Paris and was talking about American traditional music to some of my students. The talk came around to Libba Cotton and I shared the song, "O, Babe It AIn't No Lie" witht hem. One said, "I know that song". I was very surprised since Max was the only one I had ever heard sing it and told them so. One of them said, "That's who it was, a woman named Max". And that's how I ran into Max in Paris.

Anyway, the words I know are a little different but I don't know where Max got them.

There is an old woman, Lord. lives in this town
Keeps spreading lies 'bout me.
Wish to the Lord that ol' woman would die,
She keeps spreading lies 'bout me.

Chorus: Oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh. Babe, it ain't no lie.
Oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
This life I'm leading is very hard

I've been all 'round this whole wide world
And I just got back today.
Ever where I thought of you.
Honey baby, what more can I say.

Chorus:

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: ADD:Oh, Babe It Ain't No Lie
From: harpgirl
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 07:17 AM

I love this song! Libba Cottom tells of how she wrote it when she was a small girl and one of her mother's friends complained to her mother that she had been rude. She didn't think so and so wrote this song and sang it around the lady to get the last laugh and secret retribution!!I love Elizabeth Cotton. Her fingering style was incredible and so precise!


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Artemis
Date: 23 Dec 01 - 09:20 PM

As Elizabeth Cotton tells the story, this song was about a woman in her neighborhood who told her mother a lie about her misbehaving or being rude. She didn't think she was rude, so she made up this song and sang it around the lady, who then complimented her on it!


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Dec 01 - 12:14 PM

I have a recording of Dylan doing it and he seems to sing that " mighty High" Line. What does it that mean? "mighty hard" makes so much more sense.I have a live Elizibeth Cotten version, not a really good one, but, I always thought the line was "this life I'm living is mighty Hard".


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Stewie
Date: 24 Dec 01 - 06:18 PM

The version in 'Folksinger's Wordbook', attributed to Cotten, has 'very hard'.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: GUEST,Bud
Date: 25 Dec 01 - 10:22 AM

The New Lost City Rambler's Songbook (Mike Seeger, co-Author) reads "mighty high."


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Justa Picker
Date: 25 Dec 01 - 10:40 AM

Not sure if this link will work or not (-if it does, clicking on it should load and play the MP3 if your browser supports MP3 playback), but I have an instrumental version of it here which I recorded a couple of months ago. Yours for the download. Merry Christmas.

"JP"


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Amos
Date: 25 Dec 01 - 02:45 PM

I have always known the line as "hard" rather than "high" -- in context it makes more sense also!

A


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Stewie
Date: 25 Dec 01 - 06:19 PM

Bud, in my edition of the NLCR songbook, now 'Old-Time String Band Songbook' (p121), it reads 'very high'. Looks like Rafferty rules.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: GUEST,Bud
Date: 26 Dec 01 - 08:19 AM

Ah, Stewie, you went and looked it up. Right you are.


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Subject: RE: It ain't no lie
From: Suffet
Date: 26 Dec 01 - 09:01 AM

At the risk of offending Isis, or Athena, or whomever, I humbly off this third stanza, one which I have been singing for 20 years or more:

One of these days I'm goin' back home,
Goin' back to Baltimore,
When I get there, gonna find an easy chair,
And I won't hear her lies no more.

[New words by Stephen L. Suffet © 2001]


--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Suffet
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 10:21 PM

Click here for a link to a video of me performing It Ain't No Lie at Danny's Art Bar in the artists' village of Ein Hod, Israel, on May 3, 2007.

Enjoy!

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 05:44 AM

I first heard the song in 1964. It was very popular with the boys at the school I was at, Leighton Park, in Reading - a posh English public school). Folk music was very big there and it was where I first got interested in folkmusic.

The version they had and referred to was by The Charles River Valley Boys. I thought at the time they were a group of ancient hillbillys - like the Carter family.

Turns out they were a group of University students from Boston (their group named after the Charles River that runs past their college). They made the album in England whilst on holiday over here. the story is told in Baby let me Follow You Down - the book by Ric Von Schmidt.

Anyway it was pretty influential over here. Most 1960's folksingers learned Solid Gone, Hogans Alley, and Freight Train from these guys.

Derek Brimstone made a great comedy routine about Freight Train/ Oh babe.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: PoppaGator
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 04:09 PM

A long-time favorite of mine. I believe I first heard and learned it from an LP recorded by Jackie Washington (of Cambridge, Mass ~ not the Canadian Jackie Washington) way back in about 1963-64. A Vanguard record, if I remember correctly.

"High" rhymes with "lie"; "hard" does not. That's why I have always understood, and sung, the closing line of the chorus as "You know this life I'm livin' is mighty high," even though it doesn't make a whole lot of sense in context.

Someone above remarks "I don't know where Jerry got that extra verse." I don't see any any lyrics in addition to the well-established two verses plus one chorus, which one contributor provides as having been transcribed straight from Libba's recording. Of course, there are many slight variations from one person's reading to another's.

It's such a great song that I've always wished that it HAD a couple more verses. I play the verse-and-chorus though instrumentally first time around, then sing the two verses, play without singing again, and repeat ~ just to make it last as long as I can.

I might start using Suffet's very nice new third verse. It fits pretty well, and I don't really much care about absolute "authenticity." Long live the Folk Process!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Suffet
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 05:01 PM

Greetings:

Here are the lyrics I recorded on my Now the Wheel Has Turned CD:

IT AIN'T NO LIE
Based on traditional song as sung by Elizabeth Cotten
Third verse by Steve Suffet ©2005

There's a woman who lives in this town,
She tells all those dirty lies on me.
I wish to God that old woman she would die,
She'd stop telling those nasty lies on me.

I said: Babe, oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
It's Babe, oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
It's Babe, oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh, this life I lead is too damn high.

I've been all around this whole wide world,
I just got back home today.
Been working really hard in the rich folks' yard,
And I'm sending you all my pay.

Oh, it's Babe, oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
It's Babe, oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
It's Babe, oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh, this life I lead is too damn high.

Now, one of these days, and it won't be very long.
I'm going back home to Baltimore,
And when I get there, gonna sit in my easy chair,
I won't hear her damned lies no more.

Oh, it's Babe, oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
It's Babe, oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
It's Babe, oh, Babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh, this life I lead is too damn high.


The version I do in the video is only slightly different. For example, I sing "white folks' yard" instead of "rich folks' yard." And in the final verse, the one I added, I sing "her dirty lies" instead of "her damned lies."

So please take your pick. You are welcome to sing that third verse the way I first wrote it around 1980, or the way I recorded it in 2005, or the way I sang it in Israel in 2007. Of the three versions, I like the one from 2005 the best. That's the version on the CD and transcribed into this message.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: PoppaGator
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 05:25 PM

Steve, the diction in your lyrics, as quoted, is so much more formal than the way I've been singing this song for years ~ and contains so many more syllables ~ that I imagine our instrumental settings (tempo, etc.) would have to differ a bit from each other.

I'm not criticizing, mind you ~ different strikes for differnt folks and all that. And of course, I like your additional verse enough to consider adapting it myself

I suppose my approach come from that old Jackie Washington record where I first heard the song. It was quite a while before I heard Ms Cotten's original, and of course by the time I heard Jerry Garcia's take, I had known the song for a l-o-o-o-n-g time already.

The main difference I have from many others on this thread is that I've always sung the "all around the world" verse first, and the "one old woman" verse second. (They don't have much to do with each other; neither follows logically from the other, so it hardly matters which comes first.)

Like so:

Been all around / this whole round world
And I just got back today
Work all week / bring my money home to you
Honey babe, what more can I [say/do*]?

Oh, babe, it ain't no lie (3x)
You know this life I'm livin' is mighty high.

There's one old woman, Lord, in this old town
Keeps tellin' dirty lies on me
How I wish / that old woman would die
So she'd stop tellin' them lies on me.

(repeat chorus)

* "Say" rhymes with "today," "do" rhymes with "to you." I've gone back and forth between the two alternatives for so long that I don't remember which I learned first. I just sing whichever comes out of my mouth, which always varies. Then, when I sing the same verse a second time, I'll generally use the other variation.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Suffet
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 08:26 PM

Poppa Gator,

You are welcome to use that third verse as you wish.

Yes, the diction looks much more formal in print than it comes across in song. Please listen again to the video (see link above) to hear how the lyrics really do fit the music.

I completely agree with your "different strokes" ("strikes"?) philosophy. Any song that I sing and any that I have recorded is my own interpretation. If all I were to do is replicate someone else's version note for note and word for word, then why bother?

I'm also a big believer in the "just sing whichever comes out of my mouth" approach. Of course, it doesn't always work well when I'm singing with others, and I've driven more than one singing partner bonkers. But hey, that's who I am!

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 01:51 PM

Steve,

Thanks for reminding me to check back to find your video link. For some reason, I had missed that (or forgotten it) and didn't realize that I could have a firsthand look & listen at your performance.

If I were better equipped to record and publish videos (or even "audios"), I'd return the favor. Oh well, maybe someday...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Suffet
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 11:28 PM

PoppaGator,

I hope you liked it.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 08:23 AM

Steve,

Nice!

Most (well, nearly all) of the time I spent on Mudcat is at work (don't tell) where I'm not equipped with speakers, so I don't generally have a chance to check out audio or video performances when I first happen upon links to them. I have to remember to look things up later, at home, and I'm not always anxious to sit back in front of a computer every evening and weekend.

The sound quality is a lot better than the visual for that Israeli coffeehouse performance. If that's a conscious trade-off, it's probably a good decision; audio is the more important component, for sure.

I'm guessing ~ well, I'm almost sure ~ that you're flatpicking rther than fingerpicking on that number. I'm going mostly by the sound, but the visual image of your right hand, low-rez at it is, seems to indicate that you're holding a flatpick. Am I right?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Suffet
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 09:07 AM

PoppaGator,

No, I'm not using a flatpick. I'm doing what I almost always do, which is use my thumb for the bass notes, especially for the 1 and 3 beats in 4/4 time. I then either pick down with my thumb, pick up with my index and/or middle finger, or brush up and/or down with both index and middle fingers for the 2 and 4 beats. Also, I sometimes pick up with my index and/or middle finger on the 2 or 4 beats at the same time I'm picking down with my thumb. I usually do that on measures where I'm not singing.

While the overall effect may sound like flatpicking, the technique is really a version of thumb-lead fingerpicking.

-- Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 01:08 PM

Hey Steve,

Sounds pretty much like my own bare-fingered finger-picking approach.

I was going as much by the (very obscure) visual image as by sound when I guessed you might be flatpicking.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 01:35 PM

there is a you tube video of Wizz Jones,circa 1961,singing this.
because the good burghers of Newquay objected to the beatniks[which included Wizz.,and my cousin Susie]both of whom feature in a BBC programme,with Cliff Michelmore.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDsQSOf6_owhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDsQSOf6_ow


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 01:39 PM

its about 3 50,in the video,the date is 1960,
this can be confirmed on Wizz WEB site,and alsao from my cousin Sue,who is one of the two girls interviewed.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Suffet
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 05:11 PM

PoppaGator,

The reason the Ein Hod videos are so crude is that someone in the audience at Danny's Art Bar shot the raw footage with a small hand held camera. I had no idea he was doing so until afterwards. He later let me make a digital copy from which I was able to extract Hesitation Blues and It Ain't No Lie, and then add the titles.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Suffet
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 11:46 AM

You can now see that video of me performing It Ain't No Lie on You Tube. Just click here.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: GUEST,Mark Cool
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 09:53 PM

I learned the tune from my teacher, Dana Klipp. Dana was Libba's accompanist in her last years in Syracuse, my hometown. When I was a tenen I studied with Dana. He taught me all of her tunes; Freight Train, Babe it ain't no lie, Graduation March, Honeybaby your papa cares for you, Wilson Rag, etc. I still play this stuff live, and put a version of Babe it aint't no lie on my last cd, Introducing Mark Cool and the Folk Stars. Sold Gold, the Libba material. Nothing quite like it in my book. I've been listening to Etta Baker alot lately. Interesting the parallels between her and Libba, and Mississippi John Hurt. They all have tunes that sound similar, but with different names.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Apr 17 - 08:04 PM

Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition. Are they correct? I got a message from somebody today who thinks the chorus ends "Lord this life I'm living is very high." I can see his point. To me, it sounds like "high" after the first verse, and "hard" after the second.


OH, BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE

One old woman, Lord, in this town
Keeps a telling lies on me.
Wish to my soul that she would die, Lord,
She's telling lies on me.

Chorus:
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie,
This life I'm living is very hard.

Been all around this whole round world,
Lord, and I just got back today.
Work all the week, honey and I give it all to you,
Honey babe, what more can I do?

Probably traditional, from the singing of Elizabeth Cotten.

filename[ AINTLIE
PT DB MK

It appears that the lyrics came from this 1997 post from Peter Timmermann (click)


Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry, which allows for both high and hard.

Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie

DESCRIPTION: Singer says that one old woman in the town is lying about her, and wishes the old woman would die. "Been all around this whole round world/I just got back today.... Oh, babe, it ain't no lie (x3), (Know) this life I'm living is very (hard/high)."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1958 (recording, Elizabeth Cotten)
KEYWORDS: lie nonballad floatingverses hardtimes
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 121, "Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 184, "Oh, Babe, It Ain't No Lie" (1 text)

RECORDINGS:
Elizabeth Cotten, "Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie" (on Cotten01)
NOTES: Elizabeth Cotten learned this song from country blues singers around Chapel Hill, NC. - PJS
I would note that the versions I've heard of this piece are very diverse; most seem to consist of floating lyrics (or at least themes) held together by the chorus "Oh babe, it ain't no lie." - RBW
File: CSW121

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: ADD Version: Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie (Cotten)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Apr 17 - 08:55 PM

The song is on Smithsonian/Folkways album SF 40009, Elizabeth Cotten: Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes. Here are the lyrics from the CD booklet (which I think is wrong about "women"):

OH BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE
An unusual blues sung around the Chapel Hill area

One old women Lord in this town
Keeps a-telling her lies on me.
Wish to my soul that old women would die
Keeps a-telling her lies on me.

CHORUS:
Oh babe it ain't no lie,
Oh babe it ain't no lie,
Oh babe it ain't no lie,
Know this life I'm living is very high.

Been all around this whole round world,
Lord I just got back today.
Work all the week, hon and I give it all to you,
Honey baby what more can I do?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GFM6B0oQ8M

Here's a live performance - you gotta see this!


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Subject: ADD Version: Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie (Cotten)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Apr 17 - 09:10 PM

OH BABE IT AIN'T NO LIE

One old woman, Lord, in this town,
Keep a-telling her lies on me.
Wish to my soul that old woman would die,
Keep a-telling her lies on me.

CHORUS:
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie,
Oh, babe, it ain't no lie,
Know this life I'm living is very high.

Been all around this whole round world,
Lord, I just got back today.
Work all the week, hon, and I give it all to you,
Honey, baby, what more can I do?


Notes: A country blues that Elizabeth Cotten learned around her home near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her "country ragtime" style and beautifully reserved manner of playing have become very popular in the cities. She plays a standard guitar left-handed.

Source: Old-Time String Band Songbook, edited by John Cohen and Mike Seeger, Musical Transcriptions by Hally Wood. Oak Publications, 1964 & 1976, page 121


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Subject: RE: ADD: Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 15 Apr 17 - 09:19 PM

On her Smithsonian Folkways album, Freight Train and Other North Carolina Songs and Tunes, she definitely sings "This life I'm living is very high." It rhymes exactly with "lie" in the line before.

The vowel ending of "high" comprises a low back vowel (roughly "ah") and a glide to a high front vowel (roughly ee). If you say ah-ee rapidly, then make it one syllable, you'll come up with something like "eye."

In some dialects of English, the glide is omitted, leaving ah. You see this often in eye-diakect dialogue: "Ah jes dunno."

As you know, some dialects drop r unless it precedes a vowel: "Pahk yuh cah in Hahvahd Yahd."

In some dialects then, "are" and "I" are both pronounced roughly "ah." The only difference, then, between "high" and "hard" is the final d in the latter.

In the song, that d is absent. The last two lines of the refrain rhyme perfectly:"lie" is pronounced "lah."

I wouldn't make such a meal of this, except it's a long-standing and respectable conflict, and it makes such a difference in the tone of the song. In one, the speaker bemoans being picked on; in the other she disdains the slander and suggests a motive.


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Subject: ADD Verse: Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Apr 17 - 09:28 PM

This is such a great song, it could use another verse. Bill Staines has a nice third verse on his Old Dogs album:

    Been down so long, Lord it looks like up to me,
    Yet nobody seems to care;
    Sittin' here thinkin' that if trouble were money,
    Then I'd be a millionaire.

Don't know if Staines wrote the verse or not, but it works.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: ADD: Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
From: Mark Ross
Date: 16 Apr 17 - 09:53 AM

Miss Libba used to say that she wrote this for the woman next door who tattled on her. Libba said she took great delight in sitting on her front porch and playing and singing it as loud as she could. The mean woman next door looked over and said what a nice song that Libba was singing. Libba just smiled and thanked her.

Mark Ross


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